How to cut tree branches with chainsaw

How to cut trees, limbs and branches with a chainsaw

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August 1, 2015

By Jeff Day

Chainsaws are powerful tools when you want to cut down a tree or chop up a tree that toppled during a storm. When you're using a chainsaw to cut a tree or tree limb, two things make the job easier and safer: use the design of the chainsaw and the weight of the tree or tree limb to your advantage. And always keep the chain sharp.

For advice on repairing a chainsaw, see our chainsaw repair help.

Cutting tips

Before you start cutting, keep these tips in mind:

  • Whether you're cutting down a tree, cutting a fallen limb or trimming small, low branches from a tree, run the chainsaw at full speed. It's not only faster, it's safer. Running at high speed reduces the chance of the chain binding and causing the chainsaw to fly back at you.

  • When you start up a chainsaw, make sure the chain oiler is working the way it should. The oiler shoots a thin cushion of oil between the chain and the guide bar, and without it, both would overheat and be ruined.

    To check that the oiler is working properly, put newspaper under the chainsaw and pull the trigger to bring the chainsaw to full speed. Oil should splatter onto the paper. If not, clean out the oil ports in the bar as directed in your owner's manual.

  • Chains dull quickly—you know the chain is sharp if it creates chips as it cuts. If you see chainsaw dust instead of chips, it means the chain is dull. Stop immediately and sharpen it.

    Chain sharpening requires special tools to ensure that cutters are sharpened at the correct angle and depth. If you're an inexperienced chainsaw user, have the chain professionally sharpened. If you feel comfortable sharpening your own chainsaw chain, you can do it yourself.

Cutting down a tree

Have at least two safety zones you can move to as the tree begins to fall. The first safety zone should be directly opposite where you expect the tree to fall. The second should be a place you can get to if the tree unexpectedly falls toward you. There should be no people, pets or objects within 2-1/2 tree lengths of the tree.

To start, cut a notch at a comfortable working height on the side toward the desired direction of fall. If the tree is leaning or appears to have more limbs or limbs of greater weight on one side, cut the notch in the the leaning or heavy side.

Make the first cut so it slopes toward the ground and goes about one-third of the way through the tree. Finish the notch with a cut from below that angles up toward the first cut, and remove the wedge of wood the cuts created.

Finish the job from the other side of the tree, starting about 2 inches above the point of the notch. On larger trees, turn off the chainsaw partway through the cut, remove it from the tree, and drive wood or plastic wedges into the cut to keep it open. Restart the chainsaw and carefully put it back in the cut, being careful not to do any cutting with the tip—cuts along the tip can cause the chainsaw to kick back at you.

The tree starts falling before you've cut all the way through, with the uncut section acting as a hinge that slows the fall and controls its direction. As soon as the tree starts to fall, turn off the chainsaw, put it on the ground and move quickly into the appropriate safety zone.

Cutting fallen limbs

When cutting a falling limb, ideally you should rest the limb on a chainsaw buck with a pair of X-shaped legs. That way, you can cut without bending over, the chain won't hit the ground and the chainsaw is less likely to bind inside the slide when the slice compresses. If the limb is too heavy to lift onto a chainsaw buck, or if you don't have a chainsaw buck handy, cut so that the chain won't dip into the ground and get dull. Start cutting from the top, cutting about one-third of the way through the log. Roll the log over and finish with a second cut. Cut small branches in one cut, but cut larger pieces in two cuts to avoid pinching the chain inside the cut. Here's how:

  • When cutting a log suspended between two points—such as on a saw buck, or across a ditch—start the cut on the top and cut part way through. Finish the cut from below, cutting straight up into the initial cut.

  • When cutting a log suspended from a single point—like leaning against a house—start the cut from below, and finish from above. This method keeps the chain from getting pinched as the log droops.

When cutting large limbs from a fallen tree, start cutting from the base of the tree and work your way toward the top, so that the uncut limbs point away from you instead of getting in your way. Cut through branches that are parallel to the ground from above. Cut through other branches as if you were pruning the tree. Don't cut large limbs from a standing tree—it's too dangerous. Call a professional.

Trimming small branches from a tree

You can use a chainsaw to trim small branches from a tree, as long as you don't have to hold the chainsaw higher than shoulder level.

To prevent the falling branch from tearing the bark from the trunk as it falls, make a cut a foot or so from the trunk and cut from below the branch, so that the limb sags. Move a few inches further away from the tree and cut all the way through the branch from above. Any tearing that occurs stops when it reaches the first cut. Make a third cut close to the trunk to cut off the stub left by the second cut.

Jeff Day is a freelance writer.

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How to limb a tree – Husqvarna Chainsaw Academy


Chainsaw Academy

AuthorHusqvarna Chainsaw Academy

Last edited

April 29, 2021

Last editedApril 29, 2021

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Simple and effective limbing requires good technique. If you are a beginner, you can start slowly and methodically, and then gradually increase your speed. Here are some basic rules and methods for safe and efficient limbing.

Limbing is the operation that usually takes the most time and effort when working with chainsaws. Therefore, you have much to gain by learning an effort saving and quick limbing method. If you get tired in your back from limbing a tree, this may well be an indication that your technique needs fine tuning.


Safe and comfortable operating position

To achieve a safe and comfortable operating position – make sure to understand and learn these considerations:


SAFE WORKING POSITION Always stand on the left side of the tree trunk and always limb from the roots to the top end. Stand securely with your feet apart at a 45 degree angle to the trunk. Work with the saw near your body. It is important that your stance is stable in two directions. It is always dangerous to move your feet while limbing. That is why it is important to have ample reach without needing to move your feet.


COMFORTABLE WORKING HEIGHT Try to work at a height at which you do not have to stoop down. You can achieve the right working height by trying to fell a tree so that it falls over the other felled trees, logs, stones or elevations in the terrain. The most comfortable working height you can achieve when limbing can be at waist height down to knee level. Bend your knees, not your back!


BALANCE THE CHAINSAW ON THE TRUNK OR YOUR LEG Carry the saw as little as possible while limbing and changing positions. The chainsaw must not be lifted away from the trunk more than necessary. Use the chainsaw as a lever, with the saw body resting on the trunk or your leg. Limbing will be easier and more effective with a short guide bar (13″–15″).


SAFE MOVEMENT Always hold the guide bar on the other side of the trunk when you move your feet. The chain must be stationary when you move. Hold the saw by both handles when moving short distances, never by the rear handle only. For longer movements, you should activate the chain brake and carry the saw by the front handle.


CONSIDER THE WEIGHT OF THE BRANCH Determine how the branches are tensioned. Cut on the opposite side of the branch where the guide bar is not likely to “pinch” because of the weight of the branch. If you are not sure you cut the branch in stages, from the outside in towards the trunk.


BEWARE OF KICKBACKS Avoid cutting with the guide bar tip. Your thumbs and fingers must always be wrapped around the handles during limbing work. Use a guide bar length that is adapted to the dimension of the tree.


REMOVE ANY BRANCHES THAT ARE IN THE WAY Let the saw rest on the trunk while lifting off severed limbs or branches with your right hand. Activate the chain brake.

About limbing with the lever method

This method is suitable for trees with thin to medium thick branches and regular rounds of branches. For example, if a thick hanging branch is likely to jam the chain and the guide bar, you may need to deviate from the recommended direction of cut on the branches.

This method is based on using the saw as a lever with the saw body resting as much as possible against the trunk or your leg. The working pattern is to cut each branch in a certain order, which is based on the principle that you should lift the saw as little as possible from the tree trunk.

Limbing will be easier and more effective using a short guide bar (13″–15″).


Basic sequence, step 1-3 The basic sequence is to limb the trunk on the right side (step 1), top (step 2) and left side (step 3) from the position you are standing. Now move forward to the next round of branches. Place the saw on the right side of the trunk and let the saw slide along the trunk.


Advanced sequence, step 1-6 Once you have mastered the basic sequence, you might want to use the advanced sequence which adds a smoother flow to your work for greater efficiency. The advanced sequence basically adds three steps (steps 4-6) to the basic sequence.


The lever method

Stand on the left side of the trunk and begin limbing on the right side of the trunk. Work calmly and methodically, branch by branch. The branches can be sawn with a pulling or pushing chain depending on the direction you apply the guide bar and how much the branch weighs.

Here’s how to do it step by step.


1. Limbing the right side

2. Limbing the top side

3. Limbing the left side

4. Continue forward on the left side

5. Limbing the top side again

6. Limbing the right side again

7. Move to a new starting position

Expand all steps

1. Limbing the right side

• Let the saw rest against the trunk.
• Saw with a pushing chain.
• Your centre of gravity should be on your right leg.
• Support your right leg against the trunk for extra balance.

2. Limbing the top side

• Rest the guide bar on the trunk.
• Saw with a pushing chain.
• Your centre of gravity should be on your left leg.
• Place your right leg against the saw body.

3. Limbing the left side

• Relieve the weight of the saw against the trunk and your right leg.
• Saw with a pulling chain.
• Your centre of gravity should be on your left leg.

As you can see, the basic sequence, with its three steps, is rather straightforward. For greater efficiency, take a look at the advanced sequence which adds three steps for a smoother flow in your limbing work.

4. Continue forward on the left side

• Rest the saw against the trunk and your leg.
• Saw with a pushing chain. For thick branches you can also use a pulling chain.

5. Limbing the top side again

• Rest the saw against the trunk.
• Saw with a pushing chain.
• Adjust the throttle with your thumb.
• Divide your weight over both legs.

6. Limbing the right side again

• Rest the saw against the trunk.
• Saw with a pulling chain.
• Your centre of gravity should be on your right leg.
• Restart from the next step 1.

7. Move to a new starting position

Place the bar on the right side of the trunk. Let the saw slide along the trunk as you move forward to the next round of branches.

Collapse all steps

35 sec

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Limbing the downward face

With the trunk directly on the ground

When you have limbed the whole trunk on the right, left and top, turn the whole trunk allowing you to access the branches underneath. If necessary, you can cut the trunk to suitable lengths before you turn it.

At a suitable working height

If you have a good working height that allows you access to the branches under the trunk, you can limb the downward face while you are performing the normal limbing process. Normally, it will be enough to limb the downward face after about two rounds of branches. Move your right foot a little bit and turn to face the trunk. Support the saw by resting your arms on your knees/thighs.

Limbing thick branches

A different work technique is used for limbing thick branches than that used for thin branches. This applies to leaf trees and other trees with thick, extensive branches. The working technique often matches the technique used for crosscutting. In order to avoid splitting and the guide bar pinching, it is important that you use the correct technique and sequence.

How are the branches tensioned? Be aware how the tree and branches move as you saw.

Gradual reduction of the tension in the branch.

1. Make a few cuts, about one-third of the branch diameter of the inside of the bow.

2. Cut gently from the outside of the bow until the branch breaks.

Crosscutting rough branches without splitting.

1. Make a cut on the underside of the branch, up to half the branch diameter a little bit from the trunk.

2. The next cut is sawn on the branch’s top side, a few centimetres beyond the first cut, up to half the branch diameter.

3. The branch will break between the cuts along the wood fibres.

Soft breaking of a tensioned branch

1. Hold the chainsaw, as shown in the image. Saw a bit into the guide bar so that you do not risk coming close to the kickback zone on the guide bar tip.

2. Saw carefully, in stages, a diagonal cut on the outside of the bow until the branch breaks.

Last edited

April 29, 2021

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How to cut down a tree with a chainsaw. How to saw and fell a tree with a chainsaw, rules, technique

Owners of plots often need to cut a tree with a chainsaw, but how to properly fell a tree with this tool. Let's figure it out together! Following the safety standards in working with the tool allows you to nullify the risk of damage and make it much more efficient to fell the plant.

How to cut a tree with a chainsaw ? If you are faced with this issue, Clean Forest specialists will help you with a solution. You can consult with an experienced arborist for self-treatment of the site or order the service of a specialist visit who will perform the work as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Contents of the article:

  • How to fell trees - safety rules
  • Preparatory stage
  • Proper cutting of a tree and technique
  • How to saw a tree correctly
  • Chisty Les services

How to fell trees with a chainsaw - safety rules

Proper felling of large trees with a chainsaw in a forest or on a plot is not only a laborious, but traumatic process. The smallest mistake can cause big problems. It is not enough to have a tool. Proper felling of trees requires compliance with safety regulations, which must not be ignored:

  • The sober state of the worker - any form of intoxication is prohibited (alcohol or drugs). Otherwise, the risk of injury increases several times.
  • Before sawing and felling a tree correctly, it is necessary to check the technical condition of the equipment: the quality of sharpening, chain tension, serviceability of the tire and other elements.
  • It is strictly forbidden to touch the cutting elements with your hands while the engine is running. If you need to somehow interact with the tool, first turn off the engine.
  • In the process of work, we use special eye protection or a handkerchief.
  • The chainsaw makes a lot of noise. Before felling, we use earplugs or special headphones.
  • Be sure to put on a helmet on your head - large branches may fall during felling.
  • Shoes are selected according to the rules - they must consist of durable materials (rough leather) with special protectors on the soles that prevent slipping. The toe of the boots is decorated with metal inserts that provide protection against injury in the event of a chain breakage and its contact with the leg.
  • Clothing made of strong, dense materials that fit well on the body - significantly reduces the risk of the tool getting caught on the item or winding it up.
  • IMPORTANT! While felling trees, hold the chainsaw with both hands.
  • Sawing is carried out by several people.
  • Do not refuel the chainsaw with fuel mixture indoors or while the engine is running.
  • The chainsaw is transported assembled and in a special case.

Do not know how to cut down a tree with a chainsaw as efficiently as possible and without injury? We follow safety rules and use the services of professionals.

How to Fell Trees with a Chainsaw Properly - Preparatory Step

Proper felling of large and small trees with a chainsaw involves preliminary preparation. The process begins with the assimilation and compliance with safety requirements. Then you need to calculate different options for the fall of the barrel, which will pass without damage to the environment. In this case, take into account:

  • Bar length.
  • Equipment engine traction parameters.
  • Barrel dimensions.
  • Presence of wind - speed and direction.

The next stage of preparation provides for certain features:

  • Felling trees in coastal areas deserves special attention. A barrel that has fallen into the water can create a lot of problems and require additional expenses to complete the work.
  • It is necessary to determine the escape routes if the situation during felling gets out of hand and the tree does not fall where it was planned. The dumped thick trunk must be sawn and removed in the future, which requires free space for the entrance of equipment.
  • Eliminate the risk of falling when felling branches - the problem is solved individually by calling in specialized equipment (rental of a cranked lifting device, etc. ).
  • Site preparation for safe movement of equipment and people. The area is cleared of branches, leaves and other debris.

How to fell a tree - felling rules and sequence of actions

The scheme for felling large and small trees is slightly different. Vegetation of small sizes is removed from the very beginning:

  1. Search for stem inclination. Even a light pull to one side makes a difference. Ideally straight trees are recommended to cut in the most comfortable direction. The size of one notch may be the radius of the trunk.
  2. A similar incision is made on the opposite side. You should wait until the plant begins to gradually tilt in the chosen direction. First you need to properly fell the tree with a chainsaw when cutting at the shoulder level of a tall person, and then separately - significantly reducing the risk of injury.
  3. Cutting trees with a chainsaw into elements that are easy to transport. The procedure begins by removing the branches that are furthest away. Small ones saw in one go, and thick saws in two or more steps. The chainsaw chain must not touch the ground. Otherwise, it will dull faster.

A tree is classified as large if its trunk diameter is more than 50 centimeters. Sawing large-sized is carried out only after choosing the direction of the fall of the plant. How to fell large trees correctly? Standard technique for felling trees with a chainsaw:

  • An incision is made from top to bottom with a slope of 60 degrees. It should be performed exclusively from the direction of the tree's thrust to the ground. Proper felling of trees with a chainsaw requires you to accurately maintain the angle and hold the tool as evenly as possible.
  • A line is drawn horizontally and abuts at the point of the first cut from the inside. In this way, you can cut and remove the corner, which allows you to correctly perform this stage of felling.
  • On the opposite side of the two cuts, a horizontal cut is made with the tool - always a little higher. You should cut as deeply as possible, but not completely, otherwise the tree will remain in an upright position, and it will be more difficult to dump it.
  • The second cut is supported by a special wedge or spatula. The remaining volume is removed with additional tools or sawing from the inside.
  • At the last stage, the equipment is placed in the opposite direction with a slight slope to the left and gradually reaches the middle of the trunk. A wedge is placed. The tree is completely finished from the opposite side.

How to cut trees with a chainsaw: removing branches and stems

After the plant has been deboned, the removal of branches begins. It is performed exclusively from a horizontally located, already dropped trunk. The worker alternately cuts the rows, gradually reaching the central part for a complete cleaning of the wood.

Each element is removed individually with a chainsaw. Experienced arborists advise in the process to immediately transport the treated areas to a separate place for further export.

Sawing of the prepared trunk is carried out in stages:

  1. A cut is made on top of the plant - approximately 50% of the tree is affected.
  2. Tool stays in place and switches off. The prepared hole is filled with a wedge. It is additionally rammed for better contact. This is necessary in order for the tool to comfortably pass between the two parts of the barrel.
  3. Finishing the tree to the end and then transporting it to a place intended for disposal.

The best service in Moscow»

If there is no opportunity or skills to cut a tree on your own, Chisty Les arborists will take care of all the tasks. We have the best equipment and experienced employees who are ready to cope with the task of any complexity or volume. You can leave a request right now on the website or by calling. We guarantee efficiency and low prices.

How to cut down a tree and trim branches

A very large branch is cut in parts: first the upper segment, then the middle segment, and then the trunk

Garden maintenance is not complete without cutting down old trees and trimming branches. Some novice gardeners think that this is a very simple matter. But actually it is not. To avoid injury and destruction during these works, you need to act competently and follow safety regulations, especially when working at height. In addition, cutting branches should not harm the tree.

For cutting wood and pruning branches, you must carefully prepare and prepare the following tools and protective equipment:

  • chainsaw;
  • tight overalls or jacket and trousers;
  • work boots;
  • gloves;
  • helmet with visor;
  • special ear muffs.

Before you pick up the tool, you should be familiar with the safety and operating instructions for the saw. The working space must be large enough. When cutting branches, stand to the left or right of the tree, depending on the growth of the branches. Use the trunk as cover or support. Sawn branches must be removed immediately. Branches located above human height must be cut with extreme caution.

  1. Read the instruction manual for the power tool carefully.
  2. Stand straight with your legs slightly apart. Hold the chainsaw with both hands. In this case, the thumb of the hand extended forward should be under the handle. When cutting a branch, try to transfer the weight to it - this way your back will be less tired.
  3. Due to the possibility of injury caused by kickback, it is not recommended to cut wood using the edge of the guide plate.
  4. Do not smoke while operating the chainsaw or when refueling it.
  5. Do not cut down trees or branches if there are children, pets or people without special protective equipment nearby.

Before cutting down a tree, it is necessary to determine in which direction it will fall. The rope will help you secure. The work consists of several stages:

  1. Create a wedge-shaped notch in the trunk on the side of the fall. To do this, cut the tree from top to bottom at an angle of 45 about to a depth of ¼ of the diameter, complete the cut parallel to the ground.
  2. On the opposite side of the trunk, 2 cm above the bottom of the notch, make a cut that will not pinch the chainsaw chain.
  3. Use wedges as a lever to make the tree fall in the right direction.
  4. The tree will make a cracking noise before falling down. Put down the chainsaw and move about 5 meters away, wait for the tree to fall by itself.

Branches can be cut either in early spring or late autumn, when the trees are dormant and do not sap. If you perform the sawing procedure and the subsequent processing of the cut point correctly, the tree will bloom in spring.

Branches can be cut with a petrol, electric or conventional hand saw. To obtain a neat cut, the tool must be well sharpened. Then the saw cut will subsequently be conveniently treated with a protective agent.

The lower branches are cut first to clear a path, improve the garden, or prepare the tree for further felling. An assistant should control the trajectory of falling branches. The best way to do this is with a rope. Branches located high are easier to get from the stepladder. You can also stand on a nearby strong branch and fasten to the trunk with a carabiner.

If there is no special insurance, you can take it yourself. To do this, you need to take a strong rope, fold it in half, pass it between the legs so that the loop is at the back, tie a figure-eight knot in front of the belt, wrap the free ends around the torso, passing them into the loop at the back, tighten the ends and tie in front over the knot.

Then wind the safety line around the barrel twice and fasten the carabiner to it, hooked into the loop formed in front of the rope. At the ends of the sling, you must also tie eight knots. Insurance must be thrown over a massive branch or branch. Wrapping the loop around the belt is quite traumatic.

Large branches are cut in several steps:

  1. Branches are cut with a lopper or a small saw. Then a large branch falling from a height will not break others.

    Learn more